Reel Critics: Oscars will be looking at 'Social Network'


David Fincher made his mark directing offbeat films, but still managed to have an impact in Hollywood. "Fight Club," "Se7en" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" represent the wide range of his projects. Fincher brings all his expertise to bear in his wicked-smart portrayal of the young men who created Facebook.

"The Social Network" documents the controversial beginnings of this phenomenal website. The plot starts with the company's privileged origins and the Harvard whiz kids who started it. Class warfare is evident as the big new idea ends up with high-priced lawyers fighting over profits. As they take depositions, the clever screenplay shifts back and forth between answers to legal questions and the events that led to the questions.

Rapid-fire dialogue and sharp sarcasm pepper the screen. Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield are well cast as Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. Justin Timberlake is surprisingly good as the inventor of Napster who guides the novices to hedge fund investors.

The real Facebook has rapidly become an integral method of communication in the social lives of millions. This movie shrewdly captures the essence of the current generation's time, place and focus. It just might be the "Citizen Kane" of the Internet age and is sure to gain some Oscar attention.

Bullies and a boy

"Let Me In" is about a young boy with a shattered home life who's a target for bullies at his school. A strange but pretty girl his age moves in next door. Standing barefoot next to him in the snow, she tells him she can't be his friend.

But a delicate friendship does form between Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz) in this worthwhile remake of the Swedish cult hit "Let the Right One In." Director Matt Reeves remained faithful to the original, and fans (like me) of the earlier film should be pleased.

This is a tale of innocence, of isolation and a deep bond that forms between like spirits, even if one of them is a vampire. "Let Me In" is a well-made horror film with a wistful sense of humor as well as bloody thrills.

Buried alive?

In "Buried" Ryan Reynolds (as Paul Conroy) is trapped in a coffin for 95 minutes. From the first sounds of panic, you can feel his terror and sweat, learning that he was kidnapped in Iraq. Not a soldier, not rich, so who besides Scarlett Johanssen would pay $5 million in ransom to save this truck driver?

Reynolds and director Rodrigo Cortés have done a decent job of increasing tension and taking us on a pulse-quickening ride. A cell phone is the only link to the outside world and also Conroy's increasing source of frustration. Overwrought but gripping, "Buried" keeps adding more impossibly dangerous elements to drive the final nails into the you-know-what.

JOHN DEPKO is a Costa Mesa resident and senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company.

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